The NRA is a force in rural states like Nevada where many voters own guns and hunt. The absence of the NRA's blessing represents a setback that Reid's campaign was quick to address Friday by noting that NRA executive Wayne LaPierre once called him a "true champion of the Second Amendment."
Christopher W. Cox, chairman of the NRA's Political Victory Fund, said Friday that the organization strongly opposed the confirmation of Elena Kagan to the Supreme Court, and it had warned lawmakers that the NRA would weigh that vote when it came to its endorsements.
"The vote on Elena Kagan's confirmation to the court, along with the previous year's confirmation vote on Sonia Sotomayor, are critical for the future of the Second Amendment," Cox said in a statement. "After careful consideration, the NRA-PVF announced today that it will not be endorsing Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid for re-election in the 2010 U.S. Senate race in Nevada."
Cox stopped short of saying whether the group would support Reid's opponent, Republican Sharron Angle, or stay neutral in the race.
An NRA spokesman told the Las Vegas Review-Journal that the group would be staying out of the race entirely. The organization did not respond to numerous requests from the Associated Press for comment.
The Senate Majority Leader has built a solid relationship with the NRA over the years and often parted ways with many of his Democratic colleagues on gun issues. Last year, Reid voted to permit passengers on Amtrak railroad to transport handguns in their checked baggage. He also voted to prohibit lawsuits against gun manufacturers and dealers for gun-related violence.
The National Republican Senatorial Committee was quick to relay news of the NRA's decision. Meanwhile, Reid's campaign manager, Brandon Hall, noted that the NRA has donated to Reid's campaign and not to Angle's during the current election cycle. The group donated $4,950 to the Reid campaign, according to records maintained by the Center for Responsive Politics.
The Associated Press contributed to this report